Your Words, Our Image

Writers, editors, reporters and other communicators strive to use the most accurate terminology about people with disabilities. However, inaccurate, archaic and offensive expressions are still commonly used, perpetuating negative stereotypes and beliefs about people with disabilities.

For example, a person who uses a wheelchair – an objective fact – is often described as wheelchair-bound, a subjective description that implies victimhood.

As one wheelchair user puts it, “I personally am not ‘bound’ by my wheelchair. It is a very liberating device that allows me to work, play, maintain a household, connect with family and friends, and ‘have a life.’ ”

Who Says?

Since the first edition was published in 1984, we have consulted with hundreds of disability groups and individuals who have disabilities to produce Guidelines: How to Write and Report About People with Disabilities. The eighth edition presents the latest terminology preferred by people with disabilities.

The Associated Press Stylebook, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th edition) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have all adopted some of the recommendations from previous editions of the Guidelines.

The first edition of the Guidelines was produced with funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. Since then, more than one million copies have been distributed, and the electronic version is now used by people around the world.

Please use the Guidelines when you write or report about people with disabilities. We also offer a poster that presents a short list of disability writing style dos and don’ts.

Reprinted with permission from the the RTC/IL. Original text can be found here.